Monthly Mentor

Sandra (Sandy) Cress (February)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Cress is in her third year of teaching in public schools and is currently an art educator in a rural K-8 school in West Virginia. She has been a member of NAEA since she was a student in college and has served as treasurer on the West Virginia Art Education Association Board of Directors since 2012. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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December 03, 2018

Why is ART important?

By Shelly Breaux

Why is ART important? The infamous question. The question we hear, and we politely smile while on the inside we are rolling our eyes. We hear it when parents are not pleased with their students’ progress. “Why does he/she have to take art? He/she can’t draw.” We hear it in faculty meetings “Just take them out of art.” We hear it from our coworkers. “Just get the art students to do it.” We have all been in the position of defending our role in education. How do you answer the question? How do you defend your position? How do you show the importance of art in our schools?

Hands on, time management, confidence, visual learning, decision making, invention are just a few words that come to mind. Let's talk invention. We know that art dates to prehistoric times. We can bore the “non-artsy” with the brilliance of Michelangelo. Most people know Leonardo for painting the Last Supper, we can surprise them with him as a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Many have seen MC Escher’s “Hand with Reflecting Sphere” but can they talk about his mathematical genius? You see where I am going with this? As art educators we not only know the history behind art and artist, we understand the relationships not only to academics but in our day to day life.

I teach using art as an educational tool. I focus on inquiry-based learning, problem solving, collaboration, conceptual thinking and constructive criticism. I believe the future is looking for self -reliant learners. When we teach focusing on art as an educational tool, we are helping are students explore different ways of learning, take ownership of their work and gain confidence.

It is important for us think of “our answer” when questioned on arts importance. It is up to us to educate those who don’t see it the way we do.


This is a piece that my Art 1 students recently finished. You will see our Math teachers bring their students in front of our work to talk about proportions. Our AP English  students had to write a response to this piece. Our Engineering students use this piece to exam the use of a grid.

When someone compliments my students work. I tell those stories first. I share the connections of art to our daily lives. I speak of the process my students go through to create. It's those teachable moments that help me not have to face the big question.

Till next time….Connect!

- SB


Kellie Chambers

What a great way to get everyone involved,viewing, analyzing and responding! Thank you for sharing with us too.

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